Switzerland and Italy in a week

Old Mar 4th, 2012, 07:13 AM
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Switzerland and Italy in a week

Hi! I posted a few months ago asking advice about a honeymoon that I am planning at the beginning of May and received a lot of advice. After considering all the advice and looking at travel books, I have finally been able to narrow down my list of priorities considerably, however, perhaps not enough. After reading this, 99% will be shaking their heads saying that it is too much. I am having troubles deciding what to remove then to make it more enjoyable.

Here is my fixed schedule: Arrive in Zurich April 30th at 7:30 in the morning. Leave from Rome at 3 in the afternoon on May 7th.

Here are my planned cities/sites to visit:
3 days in Switzerland - Guaranteed to visit Luzern, Interlaken (perhaps sleep in Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen), would love to ride the Golden Pass line and perhaps enjoy some fresh Gruyeres cheese and Bern is a possibility.

Entry into Italy through Como Wednesday night or Thursday morning. Spend Thursday touring the Como area and the other nearby lakes. Venice on Friday. Florence on Saturday. Debating Rome on Sunday or giving the rest of the places a bit more time.

What we want to see... a variety of things, shopping, beautiful natural views, gorgeous buildings (both old and new! Tadao Ando in Venice, LeCorbusier in Switzerland, etc.) most importantly, the famous foods of the regions!

Any advice to steer us away from a crazy mad race from train station to train station and meal to meal while barely being able to snap a few shots of a few sites in between would be truly greatly appreciated!

And I almost forgot... budget! As reasonably affordable as possible while still allowing to enjoy the things (food) we want. We intend to stay in hostels most of the time.
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Old Mar 4th, 2012, 07:24 AM
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P.S. We will be travelling by train.
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Old Mar 4th, 2012, 08:13 AM
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Not a good plan.
You only have a week--plan on 2 destinations.
I would pick Luzern and Venice. All of your destinations are expensive--not good for a budget traveler. I doubt if you will find hostels in these upscale locations.
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Old Mar 4th, 2012, 09:35 AM
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As with everybody, even us oldtimers, you want to go too many places in too short a time. Lay out your trip night by night. Allow at least half a day for each time you move to another town.

Look at staying in Interlaken instead of Lucerne. There's a famous hostel there called Balmers; a private double room is about 27 euros. Interlaken Ost train station is the starting point for train trips up into the Bernese Oberland. And the boat for Lake Brienz docks across the street from Interlaken Ost.

Instead of hostels, you could stay at B&Bs or small guesthouses. In Italy you could stay in monasteries -- as long as you can conform to their early curfews. Here's one source: www.monasterystays.com.

Take the train from Interlaken to Venice. Skip Como, skip Florence -- unless you're really interested in Renaissance architecture. If so, then drop Venice.

However, Venice is the most romantic of destinations, perfect for a honeymoon, but it's not cheap. However, if you don't stay in Venice proper, you miss the point of being there. Either up the budget for this stop or save Venice for another trip.

Switzerland is an expensive destination also. The trains/funiculars/gondolas up into the mountains are pricey. Have you looked into some form of the Swiss Pass? It can save you money on most transportation in Switzerland.
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Old Mar 4th, 2012, 10:16 AM
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Hi - just some research tips for you.
I use the German rail site for train research (bahn.de) but you also might want to check the Swiss site (sbb.ch) and the Italian sites (trenitalia.com). They all have an English option. I like to check the number of trains per day, the number of train switches and the amount of travel time. All can vary depending on the departure time.

I have purchased train tickets from teh Swiss and Italian sites when I knew exactly what day/time I wanted to travel. I saved quite a bit of money this way, just look for the departures that have a promo (I think on the Italian one, it was a Mini fare). Then I printed the tickets and was ready to go. But if you want to be looser with your travel, you won't want to book ahead.

For example, here is what your itinerary would look like (roughly)
Zurich -> Lucerne - less than one hour, lots of trains.
Spend the rest of the day wandering Lucerne
Sleep in Lucerne
Lucerne -> Interlaken - 2 - 2.5 hours
Sleep somewhere near Interlaken 2 nights

This would give you your roughly 3 days in Switzerland.

Wednesday - leave Interlaken for Como
Lots of options - leave at 9:04, 5 hour 11 min with 2 changes
Leave at 9:08, 5 hr. 55 min and 4 changes
Leave at 9:29, 5 hr 34 min and 5 changes
Leave at 9:29, 6 hr 14 min and 5 changes

So essentially, you won't be arriving Como until mid-afternoon on Wednesday. And you have to find your hotel, check-in, etc. You'll have time to explore a bit, maybe ride the ferry around the lake a bit. Sleep in Como Wed and Thursday nights.

Friday - Como to Venice
Looks like 2 train changes and 4-5 hours travel time. If you leave at 9:00, you'll get there early afternoon, find your hotel and have a few hours to explore.

Saturday - Venice to Florence
Lots of trains, no changes probably about 2 hours

Or Saturday - Venice to Rome
Lots of trains, looks like direct and about 3.5-4 hours.


So, I agree with the others, you are covering a lot of ground and not getting a lot of time in these places when you factor in the travel time. I think the Switzerland piece with 3 nights split some way would give you a nice taste. I also concur that the logistical aspects to moving every day (getting to train station, travel, get to hotel, check in) takes more time than you might realize.

In Italy, I would suggest picking 2 places and maybe Rome being one of them since you are flying out of there. By spending 2-3 nights in one place, you would have time for a day trip and still have time to explore the place you are staying.

I don't stay in hostels so can't help with suggestions there, but I did find a great b&B (location, room, price were all great) in Venice - http://www.aitagliapietra.com/

Have fun - you've picked 2 countries full of natural beauty and wonderful architecture!
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Old Mar 4th, 2012, 11:13 AM
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This entire trip is a crazy rush from train station to train station. (You will end up with perhaps 3 or 4 hours in most of these places - time to see 1 sight - it just makes NO sense.)

You have a total of 6 full days on the ground. I would do this in one spot with possible day trips. If you want more variety do 2 stops - 2 hotels. That is the most you can do and actually see anything more than a whole bunch of train stations.

Only you can decide what places are your must see. You and your fiance MUST each pick out your top 4 sights, then list them in order. Then pick the one or two spots that will let you see as many as possible. If you do more than this I think you will find this trip extremely frustrating - and it's likely that you will miss a train or there will be some random delay - and the entire trip wil fall apart.

If you are stuck with Zuricn and Rome then I think the places I would do are 1) Luzern with day trips, then train to Rome and see the basics there (which will take 3 full days).
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Old Mar 4th, 2012, 11:19 AM
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Sorry - although all of your days don;t allow for seeing much one day - the Italian lakes - is actually not possible - unless you want to hire a helicopter and bounce around to see several of the lakes from the air. Otherwise there are just not enough hours in the day.

Have you acturally looked at the train schedules involved for these trips? I strongly reco you go to bahn.de - which has schedules for all of europe - to see how long these trips are.
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Old Mar 4th, 2012, 12:37 PM
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Travel eats up a lot of your days.

We did a lot of what you want to do in three weeks and were still a little rushed.

I'm not big on tours for a trip but they really maximize the time. They know exactly where to go, how to do things, have reservations for sites and restaurants, take care of luggage, suggest the best use of your day, etc. It may seem expensive but if you add up your expenses and especially your precious time, it can be a money saver. If you want to be on your own and don't want to have to go with a crowd to sites, you don't have to. Also, there are tour companies that mostly get you from one place to the other (a HUGE help), take care of hotels, give you info on your destination and then you are on your own.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 01:24 AM
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Thank you everyone for your warnings. It is just as I expected. I did take a look at the Swiss trains but only in terms of time from point a to b. I also planned on purchasing the Swiss pass as they have a sweet deal during that time offering a free pass for your companion. After reading your comments on switzerland I think we will spend most of the day in Luzern befre heading to tge Interlagen area for two days using it as a base. I was recommended a b n b in Grindelwald from a friend. Does it really make sense to use Grindelwald as a base though? As for the Italian part of the trip I think spending just one day in any one place is an insult to the history there. Unfortunately my fiancee has already spent a week in Italy before and seen many many cities there. I am ok with one day of splurging in Venicethe o
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 01:29 AM
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I cant give up on Como as its the only place my fiancee hasnt been. But what is the weather like at that time of year? Lastly, choosing between Florence and Venice is a very hard choice. Not because of Florence architecture but the food. Any thoughts on that?
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 07:51 AM
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When you say Como, do you mean Lake Como or the town of Como? Because the town of Como, at the foot of the lake, is not the most scenic location on the lake. And it's not the place most people think of when they say Lake Como. Most visitors stay midlake, at Varenna or Bellagio or Menaggio. There are little ferries that crisscross the lake, connecting the towns.

To go to Lake Como, take one look, then move on doesn't make sense. It's a place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the lake and mountains. If you want to spend time on Lake Como, cut Venice and Florence, and go directly from Lake Como to Rome.

I hope you have vacation time planned for after you get home from the honeymoon. You'll be exhausted.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 08:45 AM
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You say your fiancée has been to Italy for a week and seen the cities you list. I would guess that in a week she barely saw them.

If you are already locked into Zurich-Rome, I would get out of Switzerland as quickly as possible and head to Lago di Como, then Venice, then Rome. You will STILL be rushed! If I were taking this trip I would choose only two places.

Save the other stuff for future trips. Tell yourself that much as you want to see things, you cannot change geography and train schedules to make this work.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 10:00 AM
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<spent a week in Italy before and seen many many cities there>

She saw "many many" cities in 7 days?

I'm not sure what we can suggest. You already know the itinerary is way too rushed. Almost to the point of not even being do-able.

When you say Venice "one day", Florence "ond day", you are not allowing the time it takes to pack up, check out of your hotel, get to the train station, take the train, get to your next hotel, check in. Any "one day" is in reality barely a 1/2 day in the city.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 10:01 AM
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I would skip either Switzerland or Italy entirely, and spend your precious week in just one country.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 10:34 AM
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As Suze said!
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Old Mar 6th, 2012, 10:55 AM
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Agree
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Old Mar 6th, 2012, 12:42 PM
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I can't help with Switzerland really, but you're stuck with flying into Zurich and seem more focused on Italy, so I'd just pick one place to see/get over jet lag.

4/30: Arrive Zurich, get to Interlaken or wherever you choose
5/1: Switzerland
5/2: Travel to Como (or, as someone else said, Bellagio or Varenna)
5/3: Explore Lake Como
5/4: Train to Rome
5/5-5/6: Rome
5/7: Fly home

Given your flights and the one place you said you can't give up, I'm not sure how else to do it and actually see anything. Alternatively, you could head straight to Venice from Switzerland, spend the next full day there, then leave early the next morning, spend several hours in Florence and get to Rome late that night (five hours on the train total). Either way it's not a very relaxing honeymoon, but that doesn't seem to be the goal!

I was in Bellagio early May last year and the weather was lovely. Everything was very quiet - Varenna was nearly dead when we went there for the day.

By the way, if you do get to Venice, another vote for Ai Tagliapietra. It's inexpensive, especially for Venice, and the owner Lorenzo is fantastic.
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Old Mar 6th, 2012, 07:26 PM
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jent103 hit the nail right on the head! A relaxing honeymoon is not the goal. In fact, especially in Switzerland, the train ride itself is half the fun. However, I am going to take everyone's advice and get out of Switzerland after only two days or so.

I asked my fiancee last night and found out that on her whirlwind tour of italy, she moved to a new place basically every day, picking hotels and hostels very close to the train station to aid in that part of check in. So while its not ideal, and obviously we won't be able to see all or even most or even a decent amount of what we can in one city, we can sort of see a lot of places.

About Como, I first picked it after getting some advice here last time I asked, but I don't intend to see all the lakes in the area, there are too many. Como is close to the train station, Bellagio is not, so that is why I picked Como, but now I am thinking that Stresa may be easier and have more things to visit nearby that I wanted to see. Is Lake Como that much more beautiful than the lake by Stresa?

Late to bed, early to rise! That will be our motto.
My work will be my vacation from vacation!

Nonetheless, thank you for your warnings of my coming insanity!
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Old Mar 6th, 2012, 07:42 PM
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Well that's true enough. You "can sort of see a lot of places" if all you want to do it take the train in to each new city, look around for a few hours, have a meal, staying near the train station and moving on the next day.
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Old Mar 6th, 2012, 08:25 PM
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The reality is, for many of us our budget and allowed vacation time from work makes us choose either one place for a long time or many places for a very short time. I've traveled the way DaBrot is proposing many times, and have no regrets. I think it comes down to a matter of traveling styles really. If you know you can only go to a certain restaurant one time, will you choose the sampler plate with four appetizers or an entree? I'm an appetizer plate person, but I don't think any less of the entree person.

DeBrot - have a wonderful time. You are not silly or stupid for trying to pack alot in. You will have wonderful memories and when you see the most famous spots in a movie or on TV it will be a three dimensional picture for you, not one dimension. The details you miss can be filled in with some good internet armchair travel. Take it from me - the lady who loved her one day in Paris Have a wonderful trip!
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